Here is one of the many issues that arise in raising dogs: dog obedience problems.
Granted, almost all dog problems can be traced to dog obedience, can’t they?
Question 1: What’s the Best Way To Train My Dog and See Results?
When I was a kid, we had a pair of dogs, one was a Dachshund, and the other was a mix of every dog alive…we called him a “mixed poodle,” though I’ve never seen another dog alive with that much DNA.
The Dachshund was named “Ben,” he was mine, and I loved that pooch.
I remember, not so fondly, how Ben was “disciplined,” which meant that my dad blew his top and let Ben know a new word taken from the Pirate’s Dictionary of Words to Melt Your Dog’s Heart or something like that.
Needless to say, my dad was “Old-School” and not too patient with bad dog behaviour.
He didn’t ask too many dog behaviour questions from anyone, though, which leads me to this post to begin with.
What my dad didn’t know is what the dog behaviour specialists now tell us: the best way to train your dog – and the most effective way at correcting dog behaviour – is to use a process of positive reinforcement.
Technically, “positive reinforcement training” is the full term.
As the name implies, you use a carrot rather than the stick to get the donkey to move.
Getting down to brass tacks, you’d reward the good behaviour, and ignore the bad. It works with my 2-year-old when she’s throwing a fit (acting like she’s possessed, minus the head-turning).
This isn’t what my dad taught me (I still love you, dad!), and it wasn’t what grandpa taught my dad, which was intimidation and fear.
I have a new dog now, Toby the Chihuahua, and if you so much as look at him askance, you’ll make him saunter off, sullenly, with his tail between his hind legs. Pitiful.
Reinforcing positive behaviour is a far better method for dogs, who seem to understand they are supposed to be our “BFFs” and not our target for frustration.
Positive, humane lessons are better for dogs, more productive and meaningful – they’ll get results quicker than the old tyrant method.
It’s much the same with people, in that we tend to listen more and learn better when we’re not being forced against our will or “put in place.”
Figuring stuff out and understanding – from your dog’s perspective – will make the training more rewarding and meaningful.
At least, that’s what the dog behaviour specialist will tell you, and I think our Toby agrees!
This method of rewarding good behaviour reinforces the dog’s ability to problem solve and gain your trust, which again is clearly a superior method for correcting dog behaviour.
Most dog behaviour questions can be answered when you trace the training method back to poor communication, or outdated and inhumane methods of housebreaking a dog.
Secrets to Dog Training – Dog Training To Stop Your Dog Behavioral Problems
Here are some tips to solve your dog obedience problems:
Use Rewards that Mean Something to Your Dog
Patting your pet’s head with a simple, “Good boy!” won’t accomplish much – your dog might like it the first time, but you won’t get much traction after that.
The body language is all wrong with a head-pat anyway – dogs tend to cringe as the hand comes down, it’s a natural threat to them.
Use a reward system that your dog loves, such as treats and physical touching/attention. Most dogs love these “primary” incentives, as a dog behaviour specialist will tell you.
Timing is Everything
Not only in comedy, but in facing dog behaviour issues!
When your pooch listens to you, whatever you command, you should reward the behaviour with a treat immediately.
Think of it as a mental mark for your dog; you want your dog to link the treat with the behaviour.
Sometimes you will see people use a clicker to do this, which is a way to mark the good event.
If you’re training “Sit!” then you’d click when the dog sits. Don’t have a clicker?
No worries – just use your voice, with a loving tone and an exciting inflection, right when your dog behaves properly.
The trick is to reward with a treat, and to do it consistently, not once every time Haley’s Comet appears.
This needs to be a habit, so your dog understands that “A” leads to “treat,” at least 65-75% of the time (see below).
Mark it with your clicker or your happy voice and physical attention, and follow up with a treat. To succeed, make it habitual.
Use the Same Commands: Consistency is King!
I’m going to tell you something that you can’t tell my Chihuahua, Toby.
Dogs don’t speak English…or any other lingo but their own.
That being said, when you tell your dog not to jump, or bark, or run away – how many synonyms do you think your dog recognizes?
Keep it simple, and keep it consistent.
“No Jump!” means, “Don’t jump on me; you’re not in the NBA.”
Don’t switch it to, “What on Google Earth do you think you’re doing? Get OFF me! This is WOOL!” You get the drift.
Pick simple verbal commands, and make sure everyone’s on board.
Keep a sheet of commands, as we do for Toby and that way everyone learns to speak dog (if only it worked the other way around, and they could learn human…).
How to Make the Reward Count
Every dog has his, or her fave treats, and preferred way to be physically loved on.
Some love a Bully Stick, some don’t really like the big treats and would rather chase a ball (that’s Toby!), and others just love to be played with for a bit.
You should know your dog that much – what turns his or her crank, make their tail wag?
Does your dog prefer to be rubbed on his or her belly, behind the ear, under the chin, base of the tail?
When it comes time to give your dog his or her treat for the reward, you should experiment with different treats until you land the “sweet spot.”
You’ll know it when you find it.
Here’s a tip that a dog behaviour specialist shared with me: dogs go nuts for treats when they come sporadically!
Yes, you need to make it a habit, you need to be consistent, but keep your dog on his or her toes.
Reinforce good behaviour 100% of the time, but give a treat most of the time, not always. Otherwise, their effectiveness wears off during training.
What to do When Your Dog Misbehaves
Thankfully, using this method, you won’t be stuck using some crazy, complex theories on dog correction, nor be harsh with your dog.
When your dog misbehaves, the answer is…ignore them.
You have to remember that dogs are pack animals, they are community-oriented.
By ignoring bad dog behaviour, you’ll get the point across just fine.
Think of a bratty child…and I may know a thing or two about them…what will you see in the grocery store when a spoiled child is throwing a fit?
Usually, an embarrassed parent doting on the little one to hush him or her, which is essentially a reward for bad behaviour.
The same is true with dogs.
Dog behaviour issues come up because of improper training, most of the time.
So if your dog is exhibiting bad dog behaviour, don’t “reward” it with negative attention. The worst thing to your dog will be no attention.
This will solve many dog obedience problems: ignoring a dog when he or she doesn’t obey.
When you make a big deal out of good behaviour, then your dog will start to realize that being ignored comes from bad dog behaviour.
Behaving like a good dog, will be met with affection and treats.